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UT Student Government calls for improvements after school stabbing


Highlights

After three weeks of meeting with administrators and police, UT’s Student Government developed an action plan.

It highlights planned changes within UT police, University Communications and the Provost’s Office.

The University of Texas’ Student Government on Thursday highlighted some of the protocols and procedures that university administrators plan to review in the wake of a knife attack that left one student dead and three others injured.

The Student Government met with UT administrators and police over the three weeks since the May 1 school stabbing before publishing an action plan online, and UT officials agreed that all these items are things they’re looking to improve.

One of the most talked about issues, the 30 minutes that passed between the moment officers got the call reporting the stabbing and when the campus-wide text alert went out — many students have said it took too long — will definitely be addressed, Student Government and university officials said. UT spokesman J.B. Bird said the university plans to send out alerts more promptly when an incident is ongoing and when it is under control.

“The events of the past day are a reminder of how diligent we must be in communicating accurate information in the age of social media,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves said in statement after the stabbings. “We were too slow to let the entire campus know about the stabbings after they happened. … We will do better.”

UT police plan to seek more money to hire an additional dispatcher and a new dispatch system, the Student Government action plan says. That’s because dispatchers are the ones in charge of sending out the campus alert, and they’re pretty busy getting officers and medics the information they need in the midst of a crisis, said UT police spokeswoman Cindy Posey. Adding an additional dispatcher and upgrading the technology will allow them to send campus alerts sooner, she said.

Also during future emergencies, the University Communications department plans to involve two Student Government representatives in crisis communications. These students will relay student concerns and information directly to University Communications and help address rumors. University Communications will also work to inform parents more rapidly and encourage more parents to receive opt-in alerts.

The Provost’s Office is developing a new protocol on how class cancellations alert emails are written and communicated. The office is also working up a resource sheet for faculty that addresses how to handle crisis situations and considering student self-care. It will include best practices for accommodating students in times of need.



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